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July 17, 2007, 10:29 PM CT

Universal flu vaccine being tested

Universal flu vaccine being tested
Ghent, Belgium -- A universal influenza vaccine that has been pioneered by scientists from VIB and Ghent University is being tested for the first time on humans by the British-American biotech company Acambis. This vaccine is intended to provide protection against all A strains of the virus that causes human influenza, including pandemic strains.

Flu

Influenza is an acute infection of the bronchial tubes and is caused by the influenza virus. Flu is probably one of the most underestimated diseases: it is highly contagious and causes people to feel deathly ill. An average of 5% of the worlds population is annually infected with this virus. This leads to 3 to 5 million hospitalizations and 250,000 to 500,000 deaths per year. In Belgium, an average of 1500 people die of flu each year. A more severe flu year - such as the winter of 1989-1990 - claimed in our country 4500 victims.

Besides the annual flu epidemics, there is the possibility of a pandemic, which occurs every 10 to 30 years and causes more severe disease symptoms and a higher mortality rate. During the pandemic caused by the Spanish flu in 1918-1919, the number of deaths worldwide even rose to over 50 million.

Why an annual vaccine?

Todays flu vaccines need to be adapted every year and, consequently, they must also be administered again every year. The external structure of the flu virus mutates regularly, giving rise to new strains of flu. Due to these frequent mutations, the virus is able to elude the antibodies that have been built up during a prior infection or vaccination. This is why we run the risk of catching the flu each year and also why a new flu vaccine must be developed each year. A universal flu vaccine that provides broad and lifelong protection - like the vaccines we have for polio, hepatitis B or measles - is still not available.........

Posted by: Mark      Read more         Source


July 17, 2007, 10:24 PM CT

Hereditary Link To Premenstrual Depression

Hereditary Link To Premenstrual Depression
A specific genetic variation may be tied to an increased.

risk for severe premenstrual depression, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the National Institute of Mental Health have found.

Known medically as premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or PMDD, this.

psychiatric condition affects roughly 8 percent of women in their.

childbearing years. It's characterized by bouts of major depression and/or anxiety and severe irritability during the second half of the menstrual cycle. Symptoms subside with the onset of each menstrual period.

While PMDD has been believed to be associated with hormonal changes over the.

course of the menstrual cycle, until now an explanation for the susceptibility to hormone-related mood changes has been elusive. "Our initial hope in the study was that by looking at steroid-related genes like those for receptors for steroid hormones such as estrogen, we would be able to find gene differences that might explain why some women have these mood disorders and others don't," said Dr. David R. Rubinow, the study's senior author and the Meymandi distinguished professor and chair of psychiatry at UNC School of Medicine. "This study may begin to provide important clues to the nature of that susceptibility".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


July 17, 2007, 10:09 PM CT

Flavonoids in Orange Juice Make It a Healthy Drink

Flavonoids in Orange Juice Make It a Healthy Drink
Orange juice, despite its high caloric load of sugars, appears to be a healthy food for diabetics due to its mother lode of flavonoids, a study by endocrinologists at the University at Buffalo has shown.

The study appeared in the June 2007 issue of Diabetes Care.

Flavonoids suppress destructive oxygen free radicals -- also known as reactive oxygen species, or ROS. An overabundance of free radicals can damage all components of the cell, including proteins, fats and DNA, contributing to the development of a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease and stroke as well as diabetes.

"A number of major diseases are linked to oxidative stress and inflammation in the arterial wall, so the search for foods that are least likely to cause these conditions must be pursued," said Paresh Dandona, M.D., Ph.D., head of the Diabetes-Endocrinology Center of Western New York and senior author on the study.

"Our prior work has shown that 300 calories of glucose induces ROS and other proinflammatory responses," said Dandona, who is Distinguished Professor of Medicine in the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

"We hypothesized that 300 calories-worth of orange juice or of fructose would induce less oxidative stress and inflammation than caused by the same amount of calories from glucose."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 16, 2007, 10:30 PM CT

Would you like fries with that?

Would you like fries with that?
Exploiting interactions between food and drugs could dramatically lower the rapidly rising costs of several anticancer drugs, and perhaps a number of other medications, two cancer-pharmacology specialists suggest in a commentary in the July 16, 2007, issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

University of Chicago oncologists Mark Ratain, MD, and Ezra Cohen, MD, call attention to the flip side of recent studies showing how certain foods can alter absorption or delay breakdown of precisely targeted anti-cancer drugs.

Instead of seeing such studies as highlighting a dosing problem, Ratain and Cohen argue that results like this one should point scientists toward a partial solution, a novel way to decrease medicine costs while increasing benefits from these effective but expensive drugs.

The commentary was inspired by a study presented in June at the American Society for Clinical Oncology. Scientists from Dartmouth showed that taking the breast cancer drug lapatinib (TYKERB) with foodinstead of on an empty stomach as suggested on the labelresulted in more of the drug being absorbed and available to treat the cancer.

Patients currently take five 250 mg lapatinib tablets on an empty stomach. The study observed that taking the drug with a meal increased the bioavailability of the drug by 167 percent. Taking the drug with a high-fat meal boosted levels by 325 percent.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 16, 2007, 10:25 PM CT

Lower mortality rates in quality hospitals

Lower mortality rates in quality hospitals
Boston, MA -- A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) shows that patients who go to hospitals ranked higher as per specific quality measures have a lower chance of dying than patients treated at lower-ranked hospitals. The scientists calculate that if the lowest performing hospitals had similar patient mortality rates to those of top-performing hospitals, 2,200 fewer elderly Americans would die each year in the surveyed hospitals from acute myocardial infarction (AMI), congestive heart failure (CHF) and pneumonia, three common medical conditions. The findings are reported in the July/August 2007 issue of the journal Health Affairs.

These findings show that these quality indicators, which are widely available on the web, are very helpful in identifying low mortality hospitals, said Ashish Jha, Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management at HSPH and lead author of the study.

The Hospital Quality Alliance (HQA), a public-private collaboration that includes the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the American Hospital Association, aims to improve the quality of care at the nations hospitals by reporting how hospitals perform on detailed quality measures. However, little was known about whether hospitals that perform well on those measures had better patient outcomes. The scientists set out to determine whether performing well on HQA measures was linked to lower risk-adjusted mortality rates for AMI, CHF and pneumonia. (By adjusting for risk, the scientists made sure that hospitals that took care of sicker patients werent penalized.).........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 15, 2007, 9:15 PM CT

Mechanism Behind Fear

Mechanism Behind Fear
Scientists from MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory have uncovered a molecular mechanism that governs the formation of fears stemming from traumatic events. The work could lead to the first drug to treat the millions of adults who suffer each year from persistent, debilitating fears - including hundreds of soldiers returning from conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The team will report their results in the July 15 advance online publication of Nature Neuroscience.

A study conducted by the Army in 2004 observed that one in eight soldiers returning from Iraq reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). As per the National Center for PTSD in the United States, around eight percent of the population will have PTSD symptoms at some point in their lives. Some 5.2 million adults have PTSD during a given year, the center reports.

Li-Huei Tsai, Picower Professor of Neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and his colleagues show that inhibiting a kinase (kinases are enzymes that change proteins) called Cdk5 facilitates the extinction of fear learned in a particular context. On the other hand, the learned fear persisted when the kinase's activity was increased in the hippocampus, the brain's center for storing memories.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


July 12, 2007, 10:24 PM CT

The '2-week wait rule' is failing breast cancer patients

The '2-week wait rule' is failing breast cancer patients
The two week wait rule is failing patients with breast cancer and needs to be evaluated urgently say the authors of a seven year study examining the impact of the target, published recently on bmj.com.

At the end of the last century death rates from breast cancer in the UK were among the highest in Europe. Long waiting lists, resulting in delayed diagnosis and therapy, were believed to be partly responsible. In 1998 the Department of Health brought in the 2 week wait rule which stipulated that by April 1999 all patients with suspected breast cancer should be seen by a specialist within two weeks of referral by a GP.

A number of studies have questioned the validity of the 2 week wait rule, but this is the first to assess the long term impact. Dr Shelley Potter and her colleagues gathered data on the number, route and outcome of Primary Care referrals to the Frenchay Brest Care Centre in Bristol between 1999 and 2005.

There were 24,999 referrals to the centre during this period, with GPs classifying each patient as being either urgent as per 2 week wait criteria or routine. Between 1999 and 2005 the number of annual referrals to the centre increased by 9%.

Routine referrals decreased by 24% but 2-week wait referrals increased by 42%. Despite the changes in referral patterns the total number of cancers remained constant over the 7 year period.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 12, 2007, 5:54 AM CT

Could targeted food taxes improve health?

Could targeted food taxes improve health?
A daily pinta or a helping of dairy foods protect against the clustering of abnormal body chemistry known as the metabolic syndrome, suggests a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The syndrome has been associated with an increased risk of diabetes, coronary artery disease, and premature death.

The findings are based on a representative sample of 2375 men aged between 45 and 59, all of whom were part of a long term study on health, known as the Caerphilly Prospective Study.

Two or more out of high blood glucose, insulin, blood fats, body fat, and blood pressure defined the presence of the metabolic syndrome in the men studied.

The mens health was tracked over 20 years, during which time data from food questionnaires and weekly food diaries were used to assess how much milk and dairy foods the men consumed.

Around one in seven men (15%) had metabolic syndrome at entry into the study.

These men had almost double the risk of coronary artery heart disease and four times the risk of diabetes of those without the syndrome. They were also almost 50% more likely to die early.

But those who regularly drank milk and ate dairy products, such as yogurt and cheese, were significantly less likely to have the syndrome.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 12, 2007, 5:49 AM CT

When it comes to walking, it's all good

When it comes to walking, it's all good
These days, its easy for people to get confused about exercise -- how a number of minutes a day should they spend working out, for how long and at what exertion level" Conflicting facts and opinions abound, but one Mayo Clinic doctor says the bottom line is this: walking is good, whether the outcome measurement is blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint problems or mental health.

Getting out there and taking a walk is what its all about, says James Levine, M.D., Ph.D., and a Mayo Clinic expert on obesity. You dont have to join a gym, you dont have to check your pulse. You just have to switch off the TV, get off the sofa and go for a walk.

The health benefit linked to walking is the subject of Dr. Levines editorial in the recent issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Dr. Levines piece is entitled, Exercise: A Walk in the Park" and accompanies a Proceedings article that showcases the merits of walking as beneficial exercise.

The study, undertaken by physicians from the Shinshu University Graduate School of Medicine in Matsumoto, Japan, determined that high-intensity interval walking may protect against hypertension and decreased muscle strength among older people.

Over five months, the Japanese scientists studied 246 adults who engaged in either no walking or moderate to high-intensity walking. The group who engaged in high-intensity walking experienced the most significant improvement in their health, the scientists found.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


July 11, 2007, 5:39 AM CT

"America's Best Hospitals" Not AlwaysThe Best

Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D.
Heart attack patients admitted to hospitals ranked to be among "America's Best" by U.S. News & World Report are less likely to die within 30 days than those patients admitted to non-ranked hospitals, Yale School of Medicine scientists report in the July 9 Archives of Internal Medicine.

"The rankings, which include a number of of the nation's most prestigious hospitals, did identify a group of hospitals that was much more likely than non-ranked hospitals to have superb performance on 30-day mortality after acute myocardial infarction," said corresponding author Harlan M. Krumholz, M.D., The Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology and Public Health at Yale School of Medicine. "But our study also shows that not all ranked hospitals had outstanding performance and that a number of non-ranked hospitals performed well."

Krumholz and his team compared 30-day death rates for 13,662 acute myocardial infarction (AMI) patients in 50 U.S. News & World Report ranked hospitals with 254,907 AMI patients in 3,813 non-ranked hospitals. The study methods used were similar to recently released mortality measures that are publicly reported by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The scientists compared the hospitals' standardized mortality ratios, where a ratio of greater than one indicates more deaths than expected and a ratio of less than one indicates fewer deaths than expected.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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